Saturday, 16 March 2013

Gourmet scrounger

Yesterday morning we found that our packet of choccie biscuits had been 'attacked'. Two had been pulled out of the open packet and oh so carefully stripped of their milk chocolate covering!!

A well fed wood mouse [photo Wikimedia commons]
The chocolate biscuits [SuperU own brand, in case you were wondering] live in a deep drawer along with the bread for toast, breakfast cereal, and Mars bars [Niall's favourite, I don't like them] and some other things potentially attractive to a rodent, should one have the cheek to visit!

This visitor had a penchant for chocolate. It had had a go at the packaging of the 3-pack of Mars bars but had given up which, with an open packet of chocolate biscuits to hand, was a rather sensible move. Nothing else was nibbled or explored, just the 2 chocolate biscuits which it had pulled out of the packet. The visitor had, oh so carefully, scraped off the chocolate leaving the biscuit base pretty much intact. In fact it looked just like it would have done had one of us taken a knife and scraped it off ourselves.
Our visitor before going back to the woods
We phoned our friends Tim & Pauline at Aigronne Valley Wildlife and described the damage. They are pretty knowledgeable about wildlife. We thought it odd that only the chocolate had been eaten and wondered if a particular type of wee beastie had a weakness for chocolate [we know dogs love it and it is poisonous to them]. 

'No specific species' came the reply, but they kindly offered to lend us a humane trap so that we could remove our visitor to a more appropriate place -- outside, well away from the house! They recently blogged about a rat with a taste for their potatoes! We certainly do get wildlife with odd tastes along the Aigronne Valley! Yesterday afternoon I duly popped over to borrow the trap and Tim had a look at the evidence and found tiny teeth marks on the underside of the biscuits where the visitor had dragged them out of the open packet.

This morning we found the trap inhabited and two large eyes peering up at us and all the chocolate biscuit used to bait the trap consumed. As far as we can tell, our visitor looks to be a wood mouse it turns out to be a yellow-necked mouse [thank you Tim for identifying it]. He/she is now back in the woods where he/she belongs. The humane trap has been re-set just to make sure Mr or Mrs Mouse didn't tell a friend!

26 comments:

ladybird said...

Aren't they cute!! But definitely better off in the woods than in your cupboard, especially if they have developed a taste for chocolate. Btw, is lady Katinka on vacation? She should have spotted the intruder before he had a chance of attacking your biscuits! Martine

MorningAJ said...

I thought it was common knowledge that mice like chocolate. I learned years ago to bait traps with it because they can't resist. (Humane traps, of course.......)

They actually don't like cheese. No idea where that idea came from.

Craig said...

Very cute. But if I had been staying at your house that mouse would have been required to wrestle me for the chocolate biscuits. There can only be one chocolate winner! Have Mars bars in France shrunk as much as they have here?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - both cats present, lazy so and so's! We had stern words with both about slipping standards! ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@AJ - it was a new one on us.

We've had a mouse once before about 1 1/2 yrs ago [same drawer] and it did the usual of a nibble here [bread], shredded bit of plastic there, but not the biscuits. It also tried a Senseo coffee pad--don't think it liked that! We baited a trap with a bit of cheese and immediately caught it so that one did like cheese.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Craig -
Very but....
I was outraged as they were MY choccie biscuits!!

Yep, Niall says they have shrunk.

Pollygarter said...

Glad to be of help! How far away did you release it? They can find their way back at least a mile given enough of an incentive, and yours is clearly addicted!

the fly in the web said...

We couldn't find humane traps here, so seeing them on sale from a street seller in Nicaragua we bought his stock, giving the customs officer pause for thought as to the madness of all gringos on our return to Costa Rica.

We need them for 'sorro' - local equivalent of polecats - which go for the hen eggs and baby chicks.

The dogs had the sorro....but had it been a wood mouse I would have released it elsewhere...as we used to do with ragondin.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - away beyond the NW corner, in the adjoining woods. So well away but nowhere near that far ....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - LOL! Love image of you crossing the border loaded down with humane traps!

The Broad said...

It astonishes me what the little critters will munch on. I lost my favourite basting brushes to the blightersj -- they had nibbled away all the rubbery bristles and then scattered them throughout the drawer. Biscuits we keep in a cupboard they cannot access. One morning we discovered the butter dish had it's lid removed and one year we discovered a mouse had nibbled the top off the olive oil and was drowned inside the bottle:-(

Tim said...

Just looked at your photo of it in the trap... given the extent of yellow at the shoulders, you actually had one of my favourites visit... a Yellow-necked Mouse [Apodemus flavicolis] Mulot à Collier... both occur around here... but the Yello-necked is more of a woodland species than the Field Mouse [Wood Mouse]... which lives anywhere.
I'll need to set the traps around yours one Summer to check... but the Field Mouse [A. sylvaticus] Mulot sylvestre doesn't have the yellow coming from the shoulders... but can have quite a big yellow patch between the front legs... it just doesn't reach the shoulders.

Susan said...

I'm glad Tim has IDd it as a yellow-necked mouse. I took one look at and that's what I thought it was too. You see them much less frequently, and I think they are in fact less numerous than their ubiquitous cousins the Wood Mouse. The other thing mice love is peanut butter, and that is so much easier to bait a trap with than cheese or chocolate.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - the previous time there were two and they were much more indescriminate.

Drowned in olive oil -- definitely not as nice as 'a butt of malmsey'

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - thanks for the ID :-) Learnt something new --it was quite cute and has been let loose in the woods.

We've set the other larger humane trap you lent us as a f/up.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - we'll remember that for future reference.
Didn't know you could have yellow necked mice :-).

Jean said...

I think I read somewhere that they like peanut butter, too, if you wanted to sacrifice something other than choccy biccies for the trap !!

I was not best pleased when mice ate their way into our brand new sofas when they were stored in the garage here for two weeks before being transported to LGP. They made huge holes in the cushions and the inner covering, even though they were still well wrapped in polythene and bubblewrap - they just ate their way through the lot to get at the stuffing !!
Luckily we had kept the outer covers in their wrappers and brought them into the house and the repair work can't be seen once the covers are on.
I'm afraid we used the other sort of mouse traps to get rid of them - especially as they also nibbled Nick's fishing chair !! They can do a lot of expensive damage in a very short time.

GaynorB said...

Would you like me to add choccy biscuits and Mars bars to the 'list'?

;o)

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Field and wood mice are definitely high on the cute scale. But urban rats............intelligent, nasty creatures

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - they can certainly cut a swathe of destruction!
Rodents of any kind are amazing in what they will chew. I once had a pet hamster which ate a complete plastic bag--it pulled it into its cage. The vet told me to be prepared for the worst but it seemed unaffected and lived to a ripe old age.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - temptress! A roll of milk chocolate hobnobs as a treat would be lovely! :-D

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Elizabeth - totally agree. Urban rats = not nice; they're often agressive & carry nasty diseases.


Pet rats are actually quite nice and they do make intelligent pets.

Perpetua said...

A mouse with exquisite taste. ;-)

We get occasional field mice venturing indoors here in Wales, but none have yet acquired a taste for chocolate biscuits to my knowledge. But they do squeeze through the tiniest of gaps, so we now keep the bread in the breadbin and biscuits in the biscuit barrel, just to be sure. ....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@perpetua - LOL! well they were MY biscuits!! ;-)
It's only been the second time we've had a "visit" since we moved here but we may now pop some more stuff in containers.

Vagabonde said...

That is a cute mouse. We trapped one not long ago, it was a black mouse – don’t know its name. I hope you took it a long way away as they will come back – ours did, 3 times until we drove it to the mountain. It had been munching on my French lavender soap from Provence…

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vagabonde - so far so good, fingers crossed. We did get either the returnee or a second one the next night but since then it's been quiet.

If you have to munch on soap then French lavender would be my choice ;-)